Whether they’re cuts, burns, punctures or abrasions, we’ve all experienced wounds of various severities in our lives.
And, most often, some immediate first aid coupled with the passing of time leads us down the healing path many of us have come to expect.
But occasionally — perhaps seemingly out of the blue — one may experience a hiccup in this process during which time itself doesn’t seem to do the trick. Your wound does not appear to be healing, and perhaps you’re even developing some complications at the site of your injury.
At this point, it’s possible you may be dealing with a chronic wound.
What is a Chronic Wound?
A chronic wound is one that isn’t progressing through the normal phases of healing and which has shown no signs of significant improvement in around 30 days to three months.
In other words, it just doesn’t appear to be getting any better.
The area around a chronic wound may be inflamed and numb, and the wound itself may also appear raised while showing signs of infection through swelling, discharge and possibly an unpleasant odor.
At any given time, it’s estimated that around 8.2 million people in the U.S. are dealing with wounds that won’t heal.
Why Won’t My Wound Heal?
What causes wounds to heal slowly, or not at all? There are a number of possible factors, but a few of the main causes include:
When a wound gets infected, your body may focus more on fighting the infection than repairing and healing the wound.
A Medical Condition
People with ailments such as diabetes, renal failure and venous and arterial disease tend to have compromised immune systems. This can prolong the healing process.
A sufficient supply of blood is critical in ensuring wounds heal quickly and properly. If the blood supply is poor at the site of the wound — say, in the legs or feet — this can prolong the healing process. Smoking can also negatively affect your circulation.
Your body requires plenty of protein — perhaps as much as three times the normal daily requirement — to build new tissue. Good hydration is also critical.
Some medications, such as steroids or blood thinners, could hinder your body’s ability to properly repair itself.
Continual pressure on a wound, such as with so-called bed sores or pressure ulcers, can prolong and even stop the healing process.
Seek Medical Advice
When you do not see continued improvement during the healing process of a wound, often over a period of weeks, it’s likely time to seek professional medical advice from your physician or a wound healing specialist.
A wound healing specialist is a medical professional who is trained and experienced in the care and treatments of all types of wounds, both acute and chronic. Their care is often customized to a patient’s individual physical needs.
Of course, if your wound appears to be infected, is causing lots of pain at and around the injury, is hindering your daily life and causing fever and chills, seek medical attention immediately.